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Club Rugby: Provincial Preview

Club Rugby: Provincial Preview

Rob Murphy from grassroots rugby website, www.knockon.ie, brings us his weekly look at the local club action from around the four provinces.


After the Junior Cup final where Galwegians secured an eighth title in their history thanks to a 35-15 victory over Westport at the Sportsground, the Cawley Cup take centre stage this weekend.

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Galwegians are having an incredible season across the board having annexed the Ulster Bank League Division 2A title, the Connacht Junior Cup and with their Under-17s in an All-Ireland final, to crown everything, their Women’s team secured a second All-Ireland Cup title in three years last Sunday too.

The Cawley Cup is reserved solely for junior clubs and is at the quarter-final stage. Westport will look to put the cup final disappointment behind them when they host Ballyhaunis at Carrowholly.

A stronger set piece will be Westport’s main area for improvement from the clash last Sunday as they look to finish the season on a high.

Connemara captured the Junior Plate at the Sportsground in the curtain raiser to the Junior Cup decider – beating a strong Loughrea side 25-10 – and that confidence boost will serve them well ahead of a tricky quarter-final away to Monivea.

Elsewhere, Loughrea are in a good position to cause an upset at home to Ballina, while Ballinasloe will be strong favourites for their home clash with Castlebar.


The Towns Cup semi-finals stole the headlines last weekend with Ashbourne and Kilkenny emerging from one score semi-finals to book their places in the April 20 decider at Black Gates, home of Tullow RFC.

For Ashbourne, this is just their second appearance in a Towns Cup final – the previous outing was the 1999 decider and a defeat to Navan. Kilkenny are looking for a sixth title and are through to their first final since 2002.

At Forenaughts, Ashbourne edged out All-Ireland Junior Cup champions Enniscorthy 12-10 while at Tullow, Kilkenny held out Wicklow in the closing stages to win 12-7 and complete a brilliant run of form to get to the final.

The Metro Cup semi-finals also took place with Old Belvedere and Clontarf seconds reaching the final last Sunday. The clubs lead the way at Ulster Bank League level and are underlining that with their development squads in the J1 Cup in the city.

The Provincial Towns Seconds Cup quarter-finals are on this Sunday with early kick-off times of 1.30pm to allow for supporters and players to enjoy the Heineken Cup action on the big screens afterwards.

There are two games in Meath with Athboy taking on Kilkenny and Ashbourne hosting Carlow, while Wicklow and Clondalkin meet at Ashtown Lane and Tullow host Newbridge at Black Gates.


The Munster Junior Cup is down to the last 16 and a place in the open draw is up for grabs for the winners this weekend. The first four rounds were split into north and south sections but that will all change for the last-eight draw.

There are a number of fascinating ties to look forward to on Sunday, starting with the reigning champions Garryowen seconds who will take on St. Senan’s at Dooradoyle in a game that could well prove to be their biggest test of the season.

The Shannon team picked up the Division 2 trophy last week and have beaten St. Mary’s and Nenagh Ormond already.

Last year’s beaten finalists Cork Constitution seconds will look to build on their less than commanding performance against Tralee in the last round when they host Denis Leamy’s Clonmel at Temple Hill. The visitors finished fourth in Division 1 of the Munster League this year.

The clash of long-standing local rivals Clanwilliam and Kilfeacle & District in Tipperary town on Sunday could be the game of the day.

The home side are a division below their old foes but will want to prove a point, while Kilfeacle will look to improve on a 15-0 defeat away to Clonmel last week in the Challenge Cup.

In west Cork, beaten 2012 finalists Skibbereen are at home to an Old Christians side that just edged out Mallow last week. The clash of UL Bohemians seconds and Galbally at Annacotty has the potential to be close as does the meeting of UCC seconds and former All-Ireland League side Clonakilty at the Mardyke.

The clash of Cashel seconds and Muskerry in south Tipperary is expected to go ahead on Sunday – the home side beat Dolphin with ease in Cork city last week – while Division 1 mid-table outfit Muskerry have came through tricky county derbies with Bandon and Kinsale to get this far.

The final fourth round game sees Thomond seconds and Newcastle West meet on Sunday week (April 13).

There are also ten first round games in the always-keenly contested Munster Junior Plate for sides that lost before the last 16 phase. Check the Munster Branch website for all the fixtures.


After high drama in the cup competitions last weekend, there is a quiet schedule for the Ulster club scene this Saturday as the province is gripped with Heineken Cup fever at Ravenhill.

Last weekend saw the semi-finals of the Towns Cup and McCrea Cups take place. In the Towns Cup, the Easter Monday final will pit Clogher Valley up against Donaghadee.

Valley got the better of Ballymena seconds last weekend thanks to a last-gasp converted try with David Sharkey getting the touchdown in the corner and Paul Armstrong nailing the conversion from the touchline.

Meanwhile in Ballynahinch, Donaghadee produced their best performance of the season to overcome the Junior Cup champions 22-6 with tries from David Murray, Richard Martindale and Max Montgomery.

They will be outsiders in the final against the league champions, but they are more than capable of the upset.

Reigning champions CIYMS are back in the McCrea Cup final at Ravenhill on April 23 after they proved far too strong for Instonians last Saturday.

The second semi-final was a high-scoring and exciting affair as Qualifying 2 side Grosvenor upset the odds to oust 2012 champions Cooke by 30-27

This Saturday, the Qualifying Leagues continue with the final games in Section 1 where CIYMS host Coleraine and Cooke take on Bangor in games that are not going to have an effect on the final standings.

The battle for the Qualifying League 2 title is still to be decided. Omagh are five points back with two games remaining but should be far too strong for Strabane at the weekend, meaning that leaders Ballyclare travel to play Gary Longwell’s Randalstown very much needing the four points.

Check out www.knockon.ie for all your grassroots rugby news.